22nd October | Rough Trade

Another night of up-and-coming noise down at Bristol’s renowned Rough Trade sees Manchester’s most promising future arena-fillers, Larkins, share a bill with Bristol’s Mitch Sanders and Stay Lunar. Indie beats and big choruses for a new generation.

South Bristol’s own Mitch Sanders rocks up first, backed by his three-piece outfit of discernible noisemakers. Bouncy melodies and jangled beats form a cohesive bedrock for Sanders’ impressive vocal range, at times reminiscent of Wild Beasts’ Hayden Thorpe or Editors’ Tom Smith in his rich baritone diction. Walls of reverberant guitar tone build to brilliant crescendos amidst faint motifs of funk and soul, but the grander painting upon the canvas is one of care-free indie-rock, a similar flavour to that of Peace, Bombay Bicycle Club and early Two Door Cinema Club.

Confident, visceral and abrasive are Bristol’s Stay Lunar, unapologetically dynamic and grandiose in both sound and performance. Contemplative cadences weave their way between great, crashing chords in a controlling and brash demeanour only matched by Springsteen or Brandon Flowers. Comparisons to The Killers actually stay relevant throughout the band’s innings, with their major progressions and anthemic vocal passages creating a dramatic pulse of flamboyant power, impossible to ignore. Flashes of sardonic wit flare like strobe lights as Stay Lunar’s set builds to an emotional peak. It’s truly not hard to picture this outfit billowing through stadiums.

After a blistering few years of success and critical praise, Manchester’s Larkins couldn’t appear more at home than when united before a crowd. It’s clear that the band still savour these smaller venues, despite having already become accustomed to a taste for a larger turn-out. Powerful and confident in their command of the stage, Larkins are as much a visual experience as they are an audible one, with frontman Josh Noble conducting an electrical storm of passion and energy directly through their audience.

Contemporary by nature, Larkins have an innate ability to craft classic melodies in the form of a nostalgic déjà-vu. Succinct verse melodies littered with down-to-earth lyrical content twist and morph into gargantuan choruses designed painstakingly for crowd engagement and emotional release.

Though unavoidably commercial in their compositional content, the similarities to more well-known, pop-centred bands of their ilk dissipate mostly in favour of dance-orientated, uplifting indie-rock. Gang vocal chants bellow to the back of the room with new fans and old quickly picking up lyrics and melody to become part of the performance themselves. It is in this moment that Larkins’ true power forms: written across each performers face is the joy of the communal experience and validation of their work and passion.

As Noble humbly thanks the swaying audience for turning out, comparing tonight to their last Bristolian excursion, the self-actualisation can be heard in his voice. Whether they’re your cup of tea or not, it’s hard not to feel warmed by this band’s journey.

See the video for ‘Sugar Sweet’ here: